Volume 37 - Article 19 | Pages 599–634

Childbearing patterns among immigrant women and their daughters in Spain: Over-adaptation or structural constraints

By Amparo González-Ferrer, Teresa Castro Martín, Elisabeth Kraus, Tatiana Eremenko

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Date received:06 Mar 2016
Date published:01 Sep 2017
Word count:5552
Keywords:descendants of immigrants, fertility, immigrants, natives, Spain
Weblink:You will find all publications in this Special Collection on “Childbearing among the Descendants of Immigrants in Europe” here.


Background: Spain, a country with one of the lowest fertility levels in the world, has recently received intense immigration flows that may contribute to fertility recovery.

Objective: The objective of this study is to examine whether the childbearing behaviour of immigrant women and their descendants shows a pattern of convergence with that of Spanish women born in or after 1950.

Methods: After merging data from the Fertility and Values Survey (2006) and the National Immigrants Survey (2007), we analyse the transition to first, second, and third birth using event history models, to identify variations in timing and incidence of birth transitions between native Spanish women and immigrant groups.

Results: Previous literature has found that migration disrupts immigrants’ fertility only temporarily; however, in the case of Spain, most migrant women who moved before starting family formation do not seem to fully compensate for migration-related disruption of fertility at a later stage. Our findings challenge the widespread belief that immigrants’ childbearing alone will allow Spain to leave behind the current lowest-low and latest-late fertility scenario.

Contribution: This article analyzes for the first time the fertility of different immigrant generations in Spain compared to native women, applying event history techniques. Our findings challenge conventional wisdom that immigration will improve very low fertility levels in Spain.

Author's Affiliation

Amparo González-Ferrer - Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Spain [Email]
Teresa Castro Martín - Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Spain [Email]
Elisabeth Kraus - Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain [Email]
Tatiana Eremenko - Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED), France [Email]

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» The reproductive context of cohabitation in comparative perspective: Contraceptive use in the United States, Spain, and France
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» Sampling international migrants with origin-based snowballing method: New evidence on biases and limitations
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» Single motherhood and low birthweight in Spain: Narrowing social inequalities in health?
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» Is Latin America starting to retreat from early and universal childbearing?
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» Women’s changing socioeconomic position and union formation in Spain and Portugal
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